Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hellraiser the Morality Tale

Doesn't it seem like horror movies turned away from the fantastic? Recent horror movies that went the fantasy route were Jeepers Creepers (2001) and Drag Me to Hell (2009). Most horror is now gross out porn horror, but still as if it is real, normal humans doing awful things, or the psychological, supernatural possession style horror (Blair Witch-Paranormal Activity-The Others). The 1980s was chock full of fantasy horror movies and franchises. Nightmare on Elm St + the Friday the 13th series were standard bearers to the fantasy horror genre with ridiculous murders, the supernatural, and completely fantastic settings or endings. A smaller success in the genre was the Hellraiser series. There's something about the first Hellraiser that I never paid attention to as a kid (WTF was I doing watching this at 8?). The entire movie is centered on Julia’s unrestrained sexual feelings.

The movie is based on the Clive Barker novella, The Hellbound Heart, and the book has more back story on Frank (brother trying to come back from hell). Frank was a hedonist who became a nihilist forever chasing after bigger and bigger sensual pleasures. He is trapped by the puzzlebox into the weird goth S&M world of the Cenobites. The movie has to move quickly through that, as well as establish that he banged out his brother's new wife, Julia, before she got married. They actually have sex on her wedding dress. His brother is a standard Joe husband with shirt and tie. Frank is the aloof, dangerous alpha that bangs chicks out and uses a switchblade. The bride cannot resist him, even bangs him while lying on her wedding gown, she offers him 'anything' for him to stay. She marries the nice guy, but feelings don't die, they just get repressed.

Awakening the demon, the good guy brother hurts his hand as the wife remembers getting banged hard by the alpha brother. Nice cross cutting sequence to really hit you in the head with a 2x4. The husband runs up to the attic space, bleeds onto the floor, and the blood acts as sacrifice to awaken the brother trapped by the cenobites. The half dead-half reformed brother coerces his old flame into killing things as a sacrifice to bring him back. She doesn't even hesitate, and starts bringing suckers for him. How does she do it? By seducing men in bars and murdering them with a hammer when they think they're going to have sex. Her lust for Frank causes her to kill, and she ropes in her victims using lust as the bait. She will do everything to reconnect with her alpha fling rather than build a home with the good guy. When her husband attempts intercourse with her, she cries out stop no stop, which could be directed at the approaching half formed Frank or might be her denying her husband because her true love is there. She must remain untouched not to spoil herself for her ghoulish flame. She eventually sacrifices her husband for the old flame.

An interesting approach would have been to exclude all other characters from contact with the Cenobites, Frank and the skin sequence. The director could have played the entire thing as if it was her repressed sexual desire for a true alpha which forced her to kill men whom she had seduced, banged, and killed. Isn’t it an odd coincidence that the blood sacrifice that raised Frank back from hell happened right after that intense, emotional memory of Julia’s sex with Frank. The memory might have jumpstarted the spirit. The film still could have had the chaste, virgin daughter of the husband's first marriage be the one to solve the murders, but the mystery would be if the frank ghoul + cenobites were real or just in Julia’s head? The director did not, and my approach is shaped by love of old timey horror films as well as the current environment of psychological thrillers and examinations of the human condition. If I remade Hellraiser, I'd try to get away with that.

The movie has the evil, older woman consumed by lust kill others, including her good guy husband, to raise a dead romance. The crisis is solved by a young, chaste woman who wears white often solving the puzzlebox and offering up the hedonistic bad uncle to save herself and out of love for her father. I actually didn't like the forced good girl saves the day and solves the puzzle ending. It tracks the book closely, but where's the mystery? Focusing more on the daughter in the second half of the movie also took energy away from the Hellraiser: Julia. Julia is the Hellraiser. She's sacrificing humans to raise a man up from hell. The movie is about her ordeal. It is her sexual lust that cannot be controlled. At any point, she could have forced her husband to move out of the dumpy house. At any point, she could have said no or sacrificed her life to end the nightmare. She would not. This is an old morality tale with some 80s special effects and an 80s synth soundtrack.

The Israeli-American Jew Red-Blue Styled Divide

In Freud's book "Moses and Monotheism", there is a passage where he recognizes that he, the atheist, is attacking an important, central story a faith, and not just any faith, but the faith of his family. One thing that put that criticism into even greater perspective for its timeliness was that he was writing that book in 1938. Only a few short years later would the world learn of the Holocaust. Roughly ten years after his book, Israel would be founded. Jews had lived in that area for centuries, and the mass migration back to the Middle East had been going on since the 1800s, but the big migration was after WW2. Many Jews after WW2 moved to the US, which adds an even more interesting spin on the split. If the red/blue divide in the US can trace itself back to the late 1960s, then the Jewish red/blue divide can trace itself back to the creation of Israel.

A week or so ago, I tweeted about the Israelis being red state Jews while American Jews from the Northeast are blue state Jews. It was a thought that popped into my head considering how the movie "The Sword of Gideon" depicts Israelis hunting down the terrorists behind the '72 Munich Olympic massacre. Considering the actions of the Israelis since 1948, I can believe that. Would you ever imagine American Jews doing that? Nope. When Tarantino made "Inglorious Bastards", I had to suspend my disbelief that there'd be 12 Jews in the US who would volunteer for combat duty on suicide missions and be built like Eli "The Bear Jew" Roth. Maybe the difference was not as pronounced in 1944, but in 2012, I can't think of any of my Jewish friends who would volunteer for a fight, even if for Israel.

Part of this belief is exposure to American Jews vs. foreign Jews or Israelis. I went to a college that was 25% Jewish. I knew American Jews, foreign Jews and Israelis as three distinct groups (like the Indians ABCD vs. FOB battle). The foreigners constantly mocked how the American Jews were only religious for the Bar Mitzvah money and complained about anti-semitism but did not understand how anti-semitic the outside world was. I met a lot of Jewish girls with great bodies, but the prettiest of the three groups were the Israelis (Jon Stewart had a great stand up bit you can't find anymore on this concept). The best athletes were the Israeli kids. Israeli guys were built a little more rectangular or athletic while American Jewish guys seemed to have slightly wider hips than their build should have. The least "stereotypical TV Jews" were the Israelis. Look at the photos online of a young Netanyahu in military fatigues. Google image search for Nate Silver, Ezra Klein, and Matt Yglesias. You done laughing? Night and Day. I used to think it was due to them being Israelis and not Woody Allen American Jews, but now I think it is just a split between the Jews like the red state-blue state divide among white Americans.

Let's use an analogy. Whites get squeezed out of the continental 48, their cities + churches burned, the 3rd worlders swarm over it making it a hellhole, whites get spread throughout the US, then spread around the world, the US goes down in flames, white Americans wander for 2000 years being persecuted everywhere they go, causing some trouble, forever sticking to their tightknit crew, keeping separate, but some whites stick to parts of the old US and deal with the 3rd worlders. In 4050 after a near wipe out of whites in their most recent safe zone, the whites are granted a state back in the old US. Who goes back and tries to rebuild? My guess would be the whites who chiefly identified with everything soup to nuts that went with being white and had longed for the homeland. They valued their nation, their people and their faith more than others. Sound like probable actions of red state whites? The ones who would stay elsewhere or make a go of it in another booming nation would probably take trips and talk nicely of the newly created white US. They'd go on living in their host nation, taking on many behavioral traits of their host culture, while performing the customs of their people half heartedly, marrying others, and using their kinship to hook other members of the group up financially. Some might even join the reformed white US military for a butch up session, go back home, and tell others about it like they really identify with the recreated white US nation. Sound like something blue state whites would do? It's not perfect, but you can imagine it, right? I can.

That is why I see the difference in behavior, attitude, even their view of US presidential politics in a red-blue cultural manner. The Jewish people have had over fifty years to see this divide grow over time. The type of person who will travel to a long talked about homeland to build a civilization out of nothing in the desert is far different from the type of person who will stay in the powerful US or immigrate to the US and work their way up through the economic, political and academic institutions. One group answers to a challenge with community minded motives that go beyond a generation. The other group might be motivated along more selfish lines. Think of the skill set to build a nation out of the desert vs. the skill set to make it in a ready made system. Two distinct tribes. Like NASCAR whites vs. SWPLs, there is a tie that binds, but as time passes, that tether grows thinner.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Quick Book Review: Moses + Monotheism by Freud

What is real, what is myth and what is religion? Life seems to mash up all three. We write myths into our little lives. Do you really know how your parents' early years as a couple went or do you just know the myth of how they met, the religious experience that was their wedding ceremony and the religion that is the steady marriage? Myths are important, as is religion, because they speak to us. A person can project their persona into the mythical figure. A person can feel kinship or a sense of identity through the mythical journey. A people can build a religion out of an historical figure that is turned into a mythical being. That gets a little on the edge of what is polite to discuss. people rarely like to address the mythology woven through their group's origins or beliefs. Almost a hundred years ago, Sigmund Freud was taking a hammer to his own culture's most sacred man.

Sigmund Freud's "Moses and Monotheism" looks at a possible origin for the Jewish faith in Egypt. Freud's theory is that Moses was an Egyptian of nobility or hooked up with the Pharaoh Akhenaten who had scrapped the multigod theology for a monotheism. Short summary: During a period of trouble after Akhenaten's death, Moses brought his followers out of Egypt, they wandered the desert, they killed him and eventually they came to realize the power of his teaching. They glorified his memory through a merging with another group that prayed to Javeh, blending Egyptian Moses with another Moses who was of the Javeh crowd. Moses origin was created, and if you consider the normal course of hero mythology, the idea that he went from poor family to noble family makes sense when the poor family practices a religion that the storyteller follows. Freud wrote this late in his career. He has some passages where he compares this group thought concept with individual neurosis. He works through the idea, and this is a fun and interesting thought experiment. I'd rather read the 176 pages of this work than 700+ pages of academic minutia that seems a bit too scared to say something risky or different. Some scholars doubt this theory, and others are somewhat supportive. Side note on Freud, but I love his little footnotes, where he usually pokes at himself or reveals some little clue to his thoughts that do not relate to the book's focus. As with some other Freud's other work, he is working with pre-history or early human thought. While some of it sounds like 2am college rambling sessions, it's fun to create a theory and play with it. I'm a history and mythology nerd, so this might appeal to me more than most people, but this book is still a quick, interesting read.

Part of my motivation for reading this book is that I have a theory for the potential motivation behind the start of Christianity. That is a post for another day.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Book Review: Revolution in Time by David Landes

What shapes human history? That is a question that many historians and normal Joes like to research or discuss over drinks. What gets us from point A to point B on the course of building civilizations we can be proud of and admire?  The Jared Diamond school also wants to look as to why it was Europeans sailing the seas to interact with some people close to European levels of civilization and others far behind them. Diamond uses the luck of georgraphy, plants and animals. Others use reasons that can't be discussed in polite society. David Landes' Revolution in Time gives us a clue as to how the euros took a step ahead of other groups with the invention of the mechanical clock and tracking of time. In this 1983 book, Landes explains how it was religion as well as the desire for more standardization in the urban setting that created the need for clocks as well as tracking time. The culture created time discipline, which required a way to track time so you wouldn't be late. I really enjoyed this book, but recommend that you can read the first 190 pages and be set. The last 140 pages are about the clock industry, changes as well as the current state of the game. Landes explains how the need for prayers not aligned with specific natural times of the day was a driver behind the clock invention. Even the military adventures of the day could use time keeping to their advantage. It's a great book, and you get a feel for how 'new' in the course of history tracking time to the second is.

There were a couple of curious things in this book, which will make you laugh looking back thirty years after its publication. Landes writes about British scholar Joseph Needham desperately trying to invent a connection between the Chinese water clock and the European mechnical clocks. Needham disregarded evidence, created theories of rumors somehow influencing the mechnical clock design, and also was a socialist who was suspected of being too friendly with the communists and had to resign from his UNESCO post. Oddly enough, his sympathies in China were extended even after the Chinese won the civil war. Needham was a lying piece of shit white academic who wanted to combat the "balance sheet of indebtedness among the cultures of the Old World". Landes' critique of Needham reminds us all to ask what are the motives behind a writer's presentation of the facts.

Another funny bit is how Landes thought the quartz revolution in time keeping would make mechnical clocks and watches obsolete. If you have a watch, I bet it's mechnical as only nerds wear quartz digial watches. Landes in 1983 did not know the power of good marketing and cool. In reality, how close do we commoners need our time keeping? There is something visually pleasing about a nice watch, and watches are status symbols. Landes would not know that quartz digital watches would become a nerd sign. This was a funny piece to read thirty years after publication. It's a bit light hearted after a dry history lesson. Check the book out. It's worth an Amazon .99 deal or Half Priced Books bargain find.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Secret to Michael McDonald's Vocal Style

Michael McDonald is a unique vocalist. He sounds different. The man made a career out of being the greatest back up singer of all time. He started out doing backing vocals for Steely Dan + writing songs for others, and rode that to success to fronting the Doobie Brothers and later a good solo career. I loved the Doobie Brothers as a toddler, pointing to the record player for more DB music. I still love McDonald's work. Heck, I imitate him on demand and plan on going as him next Halloween as an excuse to just dress '70s for the night. What makes his voice so different?

He has a great range but enunciates poorly. That is what a lot of folks say when they discuss his vocal stylings. I usually refer to my imitation as pretending to sing like I have a piece of chocolate located underneath my tongue, and I don't want it to fall out while singing. People mock his weird 'hurha' mumbling, but McDonald enunciates. People are wrong when they say he doesn't. His secret is he pushes the vowels in words out more and is sharp and concise with consonants. He must make the proper shape to his mouth for notes (as if one is holding a lightbulb bulb inward in one's mouth), but the tongue placement is key. He really uses his mouth to sing and not his throat. He is the anti-Bruce Springsteen.

A perfect example of his style hiding the lyrics or even just that he does pronounce all syllables is in "Real Love". Listen to "Real Love" at minute 1:28 to 1:33. Do you know what he sang? Here are the lyrics: "Days and nights like a wheel that turns". How do they sound: "dAAAys an nIIIItes like a whEEEEl thAAAAht tUUU-HUUrns". After you see the lyrics, you'll hear all of the syllables. He truly does pronounce everything, but his overemphasis on vowels is what makes him unique. I may have figured you out, but don't stop making smooth music Michael!

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Matrist Society Expressed Through the Masculine Ideal

The Jezebel types would not want to admit it. The old women libbers who are retiring now and out of the game don't even know it. Some women get it. They live it. They know we live in a matrist culture. They know we live with a legal system that protects women very well and covers for many of their mistakes or failings through the legal code. As far as the proper handling of rape laws and plea bargaining, women must sit and keep quiet as other members of the Democrat voting coalition get hurt when their sons go to jail for long periods of time for violent rape. Not everything is perfect, but the ascendancy of women has been going on for a while. The odd thing about the matrist society we live in is that females achieve success or are encouraged to exemplify a hypermasculine ideal.

Traditional female roles of nurturing mother, feminine lover, chaste and virginal ideal for protecting, beautiful + young muse, delicate artist, emotional glue of a family are not placed at the highest value in our society. This is odd considering the raised importance of women or the primacy placed on a female point of view or approach. One would expect that in a matrist society or culture that the ideals linked to women would be the ideals pushed by said society. Within our pop culture, we'd expect fantastic examples of the roles described above. Women's magazines would be full of the archetypes of the feminine ideal. Western society does not have these ideals broadcast to the masses. Instead of such classical ideals, we get Snooki, Samantha from Sex + the City, manjaw lawyers, shoulder padded business exec wannabes, androgynous bureaucrats and hypercompetitive athletes.

The examples or guidestones for young women to model their lives after or strive to be are usually women who are just protraying a male ideal. Athletics has become a huge avenue for girl power, despite this being a total waste of time and turn off to plenty of men. Hypersexualized behavior is pushed in every way as a good thing; permissiveness allows for any type of deviancy to be approved or even just shown in mass media. The organs of the state and business world are now inhabited by aggressive, strong men and women who just act like aggressive strong men. It is even common now for women to be afraid of commitment, which is an inversion of the age old 'when will he ever marry' joke.

To use two examples that I like to refer to with the weird reaction of the feminists out there, consider Sarah Palin and the tv reality show "Bad Girls Club". Sarah Palin became governor despite no family connections to politics unlike just about every other female politician in America while having a husband and multiple children. She was competent as governor, made oil companies change their ways a bit, and had a stable marriage and kids. She's not the brightest person in the US, but she's not nearly as dumb as painted by the liberals. She actually had it all: family career, good looks into her 40s. Why was she not elevated and raised as a fantastic example for girls to aspire to? First, she was a republican, so to some liberals, she doesn't count. Second, she was a loving wife happy to be a feminine woman and had multiple children that she worked her career around instead of sacrificing them to. She actually defied the pushed narrative of career first, then maybe a kid if you can fit it in. Kids were always a part of her life plan. Fatal error in the eyes of the tastemakers of society. In our matrist society, she exemplified feminine ideals and the value of women as seen by men and traditionalists.

"Bad Girls Club" is a silly show, but I often wonder why feminists don't protest it. They don't protest it because the show displays 21-27 year old women acting like men. This is the example to follow young girls: be a man. They are hyperaggressive, fight often, drink too much, have tons of sex, and rarely portray any ideal that a traditional man would value in a woman. The show is Human Zoo TV, but it is also an advertisement for young women on the boundaries of acceptable behavior. They act at the polar opposite of what was considered the norm for good women, so one could follow them or maybe one girl could do some of the things they do but not all, so they aren't a bad girl, they just like to have fun. The women of BGC exemplify the hypermasculine ideal of what a young man is

The existence of a matrist society along a masculine ideal is either a failure of the feminist movement because it acquires power but destroys the very thing that makes women real women or a trick in that it just allows enough women into the lobby of power as long as they act like men.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wave Theory

I once had a theory or philosophy concerning life explained to me by an long time married colleague of mine who at 50 looked back on his bachelor days with misty nostalgia. Over time, I added the wave starting to break and the divorce corollary.

Wave Theory

Catching the Wave - In college, you're just learning the game, you still are dependent on your folks for $$, but the pool of college women to date is amazing and you develop your drinking tastes.

Near the top of the wave - Single, living on your own and enjoying life. The period of freedom you get when you got your own place and can drink yourself silly every night is an amazing moment in time.

The top of the wave - You're living the bachelor life and have a steady supply of young women to have sex with on a regular basis. 

Wave has just crested - You find a steady woman and have the serious relationship but you're still living by yourself so you can get hammered plenty. The wave slowed down, and you are right on top but saying "whoa, why do I have to hang out with your lame friends now?"

Wave has started to break - She moves in/engagement. Hopefully, you luck out and your woman loves to cook. You still have independent pursuits; you're not always doing lame "couples" things.

Wave curls and casts a shadow over you -You get married. You have to have dinner parties all of the time. With the help of other married couples, you make fun of single people like they are living the boring life in an attempt to make yourself feel better about being married.

You see the wave curl right in front of you - You had a kid, idiot.

The wave crashes on you, and when you stand up after, the surfboard crashes into you knocking you down again - You're 40, have two kids, an oppressive mortgage and you spend vacations going to lame places like "Plymouth, Ma" and "the Amish Country". Even better, you have to go to lame stores like "The Christmas Tree Shop".

Divorce Corollary - One separate thing to consider is that the wave crashes on you if you get a divorce and have to pay alimony. No alimony or kids, divorce restarts the wave, and if wise, you will ride it longer this time. If you're paying alimony and have to deal with a custody battle, the wave destroys you.

Enjoy being at the top of the wave. One day will come when you will feel the water chasing after you.

Monday, November 19, 2012

An Interpretation of "Hotel California"

Summer is long gone and with it, playing Eagles records during a weekend dinner outside. Eagles music seems to go well with outdoor activites and recreational drug use. "Hotel California" is one of my favorite Eagles songs. I have multiple strong associations with it. One of them was a talk with my aunt who lived in California explaining lightly, as I was a bit on the young side, that the song is about living in that crazy state (she left in the early 90s), who you meet, and what California can do to you.

Let's review:

A man driving in a convertible with the top down in the evening smells weed wafting up in the air in the desert. He gets tired and stops at a Spanish style location. A foxy lady answers the door, uses a candle, because it's a compound and probably a commune. Everybody's happy to see him and there is plenty of room. The chick has the trappings of a wealthy woman, which is barbarism disguised by material wealth, and pretty, pretty boys that she calls friends. They are just friends as they are gay. These gay men dance to remember or forget their past as they are over the hill gays hanging at this wealthy chick's commune. Wine isn't available at the place as they've moved onto bigger and better drugs. There are mirrors on the ceiling as these narcissists are trapped by their own failings. They get together in the head honcho's bedroom for a heroin fix, and they will never ever catch the dragon. He wants to leave, but does one ever really leave after seeing the glory and vice that is California?

Update 8-13-2013: Just read the Bill Simmons review of the Eagles documentary, and realize that my interpretation of "Hotel California" is spot on per Don Henley: "The hotel itself could be taken as a metaphor not only for the myth-making of Southern California, but for the myth-making that is the American dream. Because it's a fine line between the American dream and the American nightmare."

Israel and Iran War Motives

What do you call an unstable, aggressive, terrorist aiding Muslim nation with a nuclear program that the US fears could slip nuke material to terror organizations? Pakistan. Do US foreign policy discussions on television focus on the odd relationship the US has with Pakistan? No. Those shows don't even draw attention to the problems inside Pakistan or the gigantic impact to our entire Afghan theater when a powerful institution within Pakistan (the ISI) created the Taliban and has nurtured it. How long did the pundits discuss OBL living within a walk of ISI and Paki military compounds? Maybe a week. Instead of anaylsis on Pakistan, we get the Iran scaremongering treatment. What are the motivations behind the Iran garbage? Should we really be afraid of Iran? If so, how are they different than Pakistan, which we are kind of partnered with? The entire face-off with Iran boils down to the desire for regime change in Tehran and Israeli security.

In the way back time machine, Americans can read the 2000 election debate transcripts to read just how tough on Iraq Mr. Al Gore was. He and Bush engaged in a bit of one upping with just how tough and aggressive they would be to keep America safe and deal with rogue states. A couple years later, Bush rolled out the axis of evil concept. As Iraq war preparations began, some Dems climbed on board and others screamed "Why not go after Iran instead of Iraq?" This is a constant refrain from Dems where they shout about a different threat that the US should be focusing on, while not supporting the current threat. Iran is a perfect example as they screamed for Iran rather than Iraq, but once Iraq was wrapped up after the successful surge, they screamed NO when an airstrike on Iran was discussed near the end of Bush's presidency. Recently, Dems did this with Afghanistan where Bush didn't pay proper attention to it, but then once Obama was in office and paying attention to it, the Dems still didn't warm up to the idea of going full force in Afghanistan to "finish the job". Regime change in Iran is in the mind of the elites. We are all Romans now. Regardless the party, we want regime change as if it's our right, as Americans, to say who should be in power around the globe.

Toppling these small dictatorships in far away places does smell like regime change to switch a non-aligned or antagonistic regime for a client state. That theory does make sense, and I believe that idea for motivations of our elites (I don't support it). There's something more at work, and part of the motivations might be to draw these nations into the world system run by the US (core theory). The thought process being to connect these periphery nations moreso to the core to reduce tensions through trade and cultural exposure. Another factor is that when 9-11 happened, a significant number of pundits said that these terrorists were expressing themselves in this manner because they lived in oppressive dictatorships; with democracy, they'd have an outlet. Wow, how stupid does that sound. Oil hovers over any Middle East situation. Not just getting to the oil, but by changing regimes, it opens up far more land for development and allows major producers to use their expertise with formerly closed off and nationalzied units. Venezuela, for example, has seen their oil production drop by 1mil bpd due to Chavez firing workers who did not swear oaths to him as well as shenanigans with foreign oil companies. Already, there are some differences between Iran and Pakistan, but there is one more.

Iran has odd dealings with random countries around the world. US intelligence analysts think of these far flung relationships as ways to spread influence and place assets closer to the USA. No one ever hears of Pakistan doing this, which might be partly due to Pakistan's warring factions that permeate their ISI. When the ISI has warring factions, the fear for Pakistani external action is lower than Iran's theocratic group with its revolutionary guard that shows little wavering. This takes into account their nukes. The nukes might keep us at bay or at least add an element of caution. The exporting of terrorism and nuke situation are differences, but is it worth a regional conflict with global impact and US casualties? This is why I prefer Israel to go it alone with their strike, and for the US to position large naval assets outside of Iranian missile range.

The elites want a new regime in charge of Iran. They want someone friendlier, not warm and fuzzy, just friendlier and dependent in charge to re-establish the old "Twin Pillars" regional security set up of pre-revolution Iran and the KSA. They want the oil to increase in output. They want a more reliable influence in the Middle East. The elites see the demographic and economic problems in Iran, but by the time those problems get big enough to change Iran's power structure on their own, Iran may have nukes, which would lead to "where are the nukes?" concerns in an internally driven overthrow. Those nukes matter for security reasons with the USA, but much more realistically for Israel. That is a legit concern. The problem is Iran doesn't have nukes now, and the US public needs some propaganda to get behind a war with Iran over potential weapons of mass destruction. This might be because that is what the elites used to sell the US on a war with Iraq. The weapons turned out to be smaller in amounts that thought, and the media buried that as supporting the war wasn't the media's vibe anymore.

Israel has a right to fear a nuclear Iran. Even if they outnumber Iran 400 warheads to one, the fear is one set off in Israel by a terror network that Israel could only claim was provided the material by Iran. Look at world opinion today. Anyone think the world would believe Israel? I would, but many others wouldn't. With a nuclear Pakistan, isn't it plausible that Iran could deny they handed the matrial to Hamas, Hezbollah etc. and say Pakistan did it? Even material for a dirty bomb could make one of their highly dense cities inhabitable, and Israel has limited real estate. This gets closer to the gut issue. Israel has legitimate fears because it might not make sense for Iran to nuke Israel if Israel nuked them back, but Iranians might be fine with nuking Israel into non-existence even if they all died just because Israel would be gone. It would be a super sized suicide bomber mission. Sounds ridiculous but after a decade of watching suicide bombers and the cult of death woven throughout the male, Muslim world, I give it credibility. Israel's odd relationship with America is the key.

Israel's true concerns offers the US elites cover for selling the war to the US. Israel has a very vocal constituency in America + Congress. Just read through the names of the Forbes 400 richest Americans. Check out Hollywood production executives, media property owners, Wall St. bankers, and commerical as well as residential real estate investment firms. Politically, Jews and pro-Israel groups donate up to 60% of Democrat money in elections. The GOP has turned much more in favor of Israel than the old Arabist-Israeli balance of old. This is not all on the neocons. Neocons as well as evangelicals have this warm spot in their heart for Israel. Recall Sarah Palin wearing an Israeli flag pin during a speech. Neocons view Israel as the bastion of democracy in the Middle East, and purchaser of American military hardware. Evangelicals have this odd glorification of the Israeli Jews and consider them protectors of the holy land, as Christianity's holy cities are located in Israel. Polling Report has plenty of polls that show a majority of Americans consider Israel an ally or friendly nation, and that they have a favorable opinion of Israel or Israelis. Consider how long Americans have been hearing about a vague terrorist or rogue regime threat from Iran. This is reminiscent of the constant German scaring in the British press before WW1. The media now can trumpet war concerns about Iran with an argument that it is not just imperial antics by the USA, but the basis for attack or invasion is rooted in joint Israeli-US concerns about regional stability and terrorism.

The US elites want regime change to move an antagonistic country into the client state column. The Israelis want to eliminate a nuclear threat. The Israelis have plenty of sympathetic promoters within the US media structure. There are many powerful donors on either side of the American political system that will want a pro-Israel response to any Israel-Iran fight. I view this conflict as a matter of time rather than an 'if'. Whenever asked about timing, I look at new moon cycles as darker nights will give Israeli jets even more cover. The US has wargamed an Iranian attack situation. An attack is coming, just give it time. Get with the program! Democracy must spread, regimes must change, and Israel must be safe!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Movie Review: House of Pleasures

If you want to find some nudity on Netflix and watch an entertaining film, check out "House of Pleasures" in the foreign section. It is a French film set at a high end brothel in Paris at the dawn of the 20th century. Having read the NY Times review of the movie, I am unsure if they watched the same film as me. They have some plot and character actions or traits completely wrong. The acting is good, the cinematography and shot selection are fantastic, and costumes and set design are great. I really enjoyed this movie. With the costume and sets, you'd expect a refined portrayal of prostitution, but no, we see routine acts, a locker room vibe, boring stretches of time, a sisterhood, and the grind. An odd touch is using modern music in some scenes like "Nights in White Satin". It seems all for mood. This is a pretty dark film.

Ten Quick Thoughts
10. Were the special evenings the light haired man arranges that hires Madeleine S&M as the NY Times review describes or just lesbian? I vote lesbian, but the Times didn't want to bring attention to a scene where lesbians might be sexually aggressive.
9. What was the direction for the dining scene, the waiting scenes or the river scene? Was it tight direction or more improvisational? If scripted completely; excellent.
8. Prostitutes should dress like these hookers did.
7. The 1899 interior design, funiture and wallpaper were pretty cool. As my wife said, 'you know they're trying hard to impress'.
6. Syphilis was a death sentence. Adding this movie's brush with it to the Stefan Zweig autobiography, antibiotics truly were a game changer in human sexual habits and behavior.
5. When a girl has her debts paid off by a customer, she receives an emerald in a box from him. I do not know if this was a real ritual, but it was an interesting touch.
4. Who keeps their two small children in the brothel when a customer habitually brings a panther?
3. One of the lead hookers (Madeleine) is Jewish. Jews make up 1% of France now. Was this required by the film producer? Come on. Give me a belle epoque break.
2. Midget lesbian (at the above referenced party).
1. The actress playing Lea does the robot as she pretends to be a 'doll' for a client. I laughed out loud when she started her performance.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Israel, Hamas, Iran + a New War

Hasn't it been amazing the number of bad news items released since election day? The world can go back to sucking again now that preferred puppet Obama was re-elected. Focused on economics and finance for so long, I've let the whole Iran-Israel showdown slip from analysis. I love foreign policy, so let's take a look at this one. Israel has started a missile exchange with Hamas in Gaza where both sides are firing at each other with the Israelis far more successful in their launches due to better equipment and math skills. What does this all have to do with Iran? Part of this relies on your view of who is pushing the situtation in Gaza. I'll be operating under two assumptions: 1. the powers that be do not want Iran to have nuclear capabilities and 2. Obama, despite being a weakling that the Chinese like due to his weakness, personally does not want to see Iran have nukes. Let's roll!

The key players are Israel and Iran. Israel has the US in its corner, while Iran has China and Russia. Iran has pieces to play with in the Muslim terrorist networks of the Middle East as well as Palestinian organizations. What started this week's fracas? Gaza has been launching rockets for months into Israel. Why would Israel go hard now? The Iranians announced new enrichment numbers that broadcast their rising capabilities. The US election is over; uncertainty is removed. Israeli pols know the C-in-C of the US military. There were also reports months ago that the POTUS would send bunker buster bombs to Israel after the election. The Israelis also know that an attack of Iran would elicit response from Iran's pieces close to Israel. Taking out Hamas capabilities before an attack on Iran makes sense like beating up a small time ally of the bully you're approaching to beat down. They don't want to have a gun aimed at their back when they hit Iran. Israel also gets the chance to test the Iron Dome system versus a barrage of missiles in a short span of time. God forbid the Iranians sneak nuke material onto a smaller Grad style rocket with a 5 kiloton or 10 kiloton payload that could wipe out a dense city. Supposedly, Iran sent Fajer 5 missiles to Gaza, which have a longer range than the Grad rockets.

Israel can continue striking Hamas targets until they have destroyed or crippled all known missile sites or caches. A blockade would prevent further missiles from reaching Gaza, but the israelis would have to monitor the Gaza/Egypt border. It's not long. Would they send troops to Gaza for street fighting? I doubt it, as it seems they want to remove the offensive weapon capabilities of Hamas. Let the militants come out of Gaza for a fight. They won't so, keep them bottled up in Gaza forever waiting for an urban land battle. With that threat removed and bunker buster bombs delivered now that the election is over, what is stopping them from going after Iranian facilities? We saw how the Israelis took out the Iraqi facilities in the '80s and Syrian facilities a short while ago. The Israelis also recently bombed sites in Eastern Africa, which some called a dry run for a strike on Iran due to the distance involved. They have the capabilities.

Israel has one real problem: can they do it alone. With bunker buster bombs, I think they can do it alone provided they are fully committed. All statements from Israeli politicians convey a sense that they will not let an Iranian nuke happen; small blogger like me sees that as commitment. They do seem to hedge their bets by saying they'll need help. I consider that their need for cover, planning for the fallout from the international community. My prediction is that Israel strikes Iran on their own and destroys nuclear and related facilities. If I had to estimate what route they take, it would be the route through Saudi Arabia (suspicions are that KSA has given the nod on going through their airspace). Had they done this in winter 2008-2009, they could have gone through Iraq (much shorter) and oil price reaction would have been muffled due to oil crash of that period.

Will this destroy Iran as a nation? No. Will it anger a nation that saw their nuclear program as a source of pride? Yes. Will this rally the Iranian people around the theocracy? Yes. Iran has economic problems, demographic problems, and with gentle prodding could be toppled. This series of airstrikes would leave civilians unharmed but hurt national pride. They'd rally around the flag. It would embolden the leadership to strike back in some form. Statements from Iran make it clear they will consider a strike by Israel as condoned by the US and coordinated with the US. Retaliation will probably take the form of closing the straits of Hormuz. Not too hard to do when it's your backyard. The US also has multiple, huge Naval targets for the Iranians to go after. There are thousands of US troops in Afganistan that make tempting targets. Whatever route they take, suddenly the US is involved, and will economically be hurting with oil prices through the roof. Iran's goal will be inflicting damage that has high visual and emotional impact.

The American public might need some coaxing. Similar to Obama economically screwing the people most likely to riot but they don't riot because he's beige and down with them, Obama being a savior for the left will help quell any anti-war lefties out there. Don't believe me, just ask yourself about the anti-war protests for the Afgan war that was escalated under his watch. There have been none. The left learned in '68 that it's wise to not protest your guy fighting a war. They will fall in line. We're all Romans now. Recall that when Bush invaded Iraq, the press screamed about 'why not Iran?", but once Iraq was dealt with, the press then switched on their approach to Iran. What can change public opinion? We might have to have a "Remember the Maine" style event, which even the Israelis have hinted at the need for a Pearl Harbor type event. The Chinese made fun of our POTUS candidates trying to one up one another for Israel, so it's not the elites that need the coaxing, but the American public.

This is why I view the Israelis as making the airstrike alone. First, they hit Iran. Second, Iran either closes with Hormuz hurting the economic picture or going after US Naval assets. Third, the US public can be sold on the idea of hitting back at Iran when this was just between Israel and Iran. If we aided the initial airstrikes, we'd be culpable and any retaliation by Iran would make us look ineffective or weak. How fast would Americans turn on Obama's decision if he sent US planes to aid an Israeli attack, then Americans saw a destroyer or carrier sinking due to Iranian attacks? After an Israeli airstrike, assesments could be made on how effective they were. As the Iranians retaliated, US forces could determine what would be needed to finish the job. With Americans shocked over Iranians attacking the US when it was the Israelis who hit them, there would be a groundswell for retribution... even as the American public overlooked the entirely one sided way we've been going about things for years. The US would then reduce the Iranian nuclear facilities, refining facilities and military facilities to dust. The US, with the American public cheering along, would rush head long into this will little thought given to the long term implications, unintended consequences or economic hardships that it would endure. Iraq is over, Afghanistan will be 'done' by 2014, so what's next for the machine? Need a new war to keep the state going.

This is all fine and dandy if we lived in a world without Russia or China. How would Russia or China react? Iran is their client state. Iran is buddies with both, and a useful oil ally for the Russians. Russia would benefit from the surge in oil prices. China would be hurt by such a surge and such a disruption to one of their suppliers. Do China and Russia need to militarily attack the US in any form? Nope. They can just stop buying treasuries or worse, dump treasuries. Would the Russians feel more of a need to jump in than the Chinese? Would the Chinese want to stay out and just watch the US go further down the road to ruin? I can see Russia offering far more assistance than China, and part of this is that Russia is the supplier of military hardware for many nations. A successful strike on Iran's nuke sites would make Russian equipment look bad. Russia would gladly supply Iran as any struggle would keep oil prices high (helping Russia) while providing a military hardware client for Russia's military industrial firms.

As I stated earlier here and in prior posts, the time to hit Iran's nuke sites was Nov 2008-Jan 2009. Fewer sites were underground then, they were not as well along in their program, Iraqi airspace was available, the US had plenty of aircraft to support an Israeli strike, the US economically was in a different spot, oil prices had crashed, and "bad guy" Bush was in charge. An all out blitz could have worked if also followed up by talks between the newly elected Pres. Obama ("good guy") and the Iranians. One solution could have been to offer the Iranians the potential for thorium nuclear power, which is better than what they are trying now but does not have the nuke weapon materials as a by product. If the Iranians were perfectly peaceful, they'd use thorium. We know there are ulterior motives. It would be a shame for another Pakistan to develop with Iran since Iran is openly hostile to the US whereas Pakistan has a weird relationship with us. I don't blame the Iranians for their quest for nukes, as I would want nukes if I were a nation not aligned with the US. There can be solutions, but does anyone believe the powers that be really want to try them?

As a citizen of the USA, I am completely disgusted by this entire process. It feels like we're being dragged into a fight that Israel wants far more than the USA for a threat that is far greater for Israel than for the USA. Europe would be far more threatened by a nuclear Iran, yet they seem to be sleepwalking. Would the USA, with its military power and arsenal of nuclear weapons, be afraid of a nation with one or two warheads? We shouldn't be. We aren't afraid of nuclear Pakistan, yet they sheltered Bin Laden for years and move nukes around in vans and trucks. We aren't afraid of India who has nukes, and we treat the other Asian nuclear power, China, incredibly nice despite being a competitor and antagonistic to American interests. The US has an awful, volatile foreign policy. We have a military that is far more powerful and competent than our civilian leaders. This Iranian issue feels more and more like the scuffle that an empire has when it is near the end. Nothing is clear, we are already overextended, it is their backyard, we are in an economic depression and our financiers are aligned with the other side. I'll pray for you and yours since we're going to need it.

Crap Documentary: Pink Ribbons Inc

With the month of pink ribbon guilting behind us, my wife wanted to watch the Netflix documentary called "Pink Ribbons Inc". We turned it on and within 20 mins had soured on it. I expected the documentary to explain how companies that were part of the pink ribbon campaign were using it to boost sales or that pink ribbon merchandisers were making bucks and not kicking the money to research. Nope. It was a different pitch. The documentary managed to not give any props to the pink crusade for raising awareness and making people talk about a disease that affects mostly women. They just tore into pink from a feminist standpoint and wove a weird conspiracy theory about the companies that push the pink message. They back away from it a bit to reminisce about the glory days of marching in the '80s (when they blamed the environment for causing breast cancer), and constantly push the need for more research on environmental factors as a cause of breast cancer. This documentary is environmental propaganda in order to shift the focus of the public (especially women) to fund research for environmental causes that will then be used in class action lawsuits against corporations.

Watch this movie if you want to hear rambling monologues by people you wouldn't trust with your kids. I do agree that copanies use pink to reach out to customers or to boost their image, but it's better to use breast cancer awareness than to do nothing at all. These women will never be happy. One such social critic interviewed is Barbara Ehrenreich, the socialist who wrote 'Nickel and Dimed', which was celebrated by the media for how poor people get screwed but was then countered in another book by a 22 year old with some work ethic. There is a surgeon who can't stop talking with her hands and a surprised look on her face who states incredibly wild things like how cancer might even be caused by a virus. No one discusses genetic factors, which seem to be a huge cause of cancer. No one discusses how the incidence rate of breast cancer has correlated to the rise of obesity in American women. No, because those are factors you either can't change or are your own fault. This documentary wants you to focus on how the environment and evil companies are giving you cancer.

There is a sequence where they discuss how companies create chemicals used that might be linked to cancer (everything causes cancer now) but also create the treatments for cancer. They make money by giving you cancer then treating it???? Conspiracy! Then they back off and say they wish it were a conspiracy, but it can't be. It's just capitalism at work, that old, evil capitalism. You can feel the anger at using pink from these aging feminists. The movie director even cloaks it by using points from women who have stage 4 cancer to describe how it makes them feel. There are some insightful comments from those women, and hoenstly, just talking to them is more realistic than anything else in the film.

As I watched this film, a different conspiracy dawned on me. The doc mentions how the fundraising money does go to research and other good cancer related things, but not enough to what they want. They are bitching about where the money is going. They want the money to go to their preferred research. This si the propaganda motive behind the documentary. What will that research be used for? If it were used to end the usage of those chemicals or enviro BS that they can maybe link some causation of cancer to, it would be nice to end the use of those chemicals. I doubt it. We know how that research would be used. If research could plausibly (and in modern courts it doesn't need much) shown to link breast cancer to chemicals used by big corporations, we'll see newspaper articles about this research. After the newspaper articles, there will be outrage because this affects your mom, your wife, your sister. After public opinion even knows of this link, we'll see lawyers using the research as the basis for a class action lawsuit (or ten) against these corporations. Maybe they can put some crying women with breast cancer and bald heads on the witness stand. They'll rake in millions for the victims, and tah-dah, lawyers will get millions as their cut. Ask Dow Chemical how they felt after the silicone breast cancer lawsuits of the '90s based on crap science that cosat them millions... only to see silicone approved a decade later for use again in implants. Lawyers got paid. This will be another example of lawyers using the forces of academia, the media and science to suck money from a productive sector of the economy: industrial chemical and plastics manufacturers.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Perceptions of Health Issues

Health care is a racket. Next time you visit the doctor, look around at the posters on the wall. Since breast cancer awareness month is behind us, check to see if there is a lung cancer awareness month with a national push everywhere. When you take your little kid to the pediatrician, look at the posters and forms you have to fill out. There will be an autism screening form, maybe two or three autism posters, but nothing about childhood obesity. Why is the focus on those specific diseases when the others kill many more people or occur more frequently? A byproduct of the self esteem and sensitivity culture of America today is that we overemphasize the things that "just happen" to people and not the most critical health problems facing us today.

As a new dad of a pretty cool son, I've been exposed to the hemming and hawwing of an MD (not the nursing staff or anyone else who knew my son) with regards to autism. I'm not alone. At a recent wedding, our entire table had four sets of parents, and what a coincidence, all of us had received the 'we just want to warn you' line about autism. It was a relief for all the couples to laugh at how the MDs acted to all of us. Autism happens in 1 in 115 kids (roughly). What are the odds everyone at that table had an autistic kid? Turns out no one did, but the mom of the down's syndrome kid has real issues to deal with for her daughter. There's no hemming or hawwing with down's. This is classic CYA because some lawyer in the past whispered into a devastated parent's ear, "they should've been able to detect it earlier, and Jimmy would be playing piano". A lawsuit happened, big money payout, and boom, we have a nation of MDs prepping everyone for the autism diagnosis. It's a complete overreaction, but any slight deviation in milestone achievements becomes a basis for therapy of some sorts. That's a racket. What's really weird is the lack of attention paid to children's weight. Even after we were given the thumbs up on our son, which I could've told them months earlier, there was a standard form all parents in the state fill out as a screener. Childhood obesity is an order of magnitude higher than autisim rates, but there is no screener. Imagine a form asking basic questions about a child's diet, exercise, activity levels, energy levels, sleep habits? How many fatties could we prevent if an MD could see habits on a form and give some pointers? It doesn't happen though because autism is something horrible that happens to you by the stroke of bad luck while becoming a fattie is something you bring on yourself. No matter how much mainstream media sites try to protect the obese crowd's feelings, the entire mood towards obesity is 'you brought this on yourself'. We perceive autism as a curse whereas obesity is a choice. For the good of a healthy nation, health care dollars, quality of life and overall attractiveness, screening for obesity the way pediatricians hone in on autism would be a bigger bang for our buck. It would have a greater impact on society.

Lung cancer and breast cancer fall into a similar weird focus. Lung cancer kills more women than breast, uterine and ovarian cancer COMBINED. Lung cancer kills nearly double the women breast cancer does (69K vs. 39K). Lung cancer doesn't get the happy, touchy month of devotion from the nation. Maybe that's because breast cancer just happens. In the eyes of many, it happens to one of the most beautiful body parts that helps define a woman and nourishes children whereas lung cancer is a punishmet for people that are mostly dirty, horrible, stupid underclass smokers (80% have used tobacco products). Do I think we should refocus all efforts and money spent on women's health? No, but women's magazines could do a better job of replacing half the 'breast cancer scare' articles with some articles on big ticket items like smoking, proper eating, exercise. If we reduce the obesity rate, we'd see a drop in breast cancer. The problem is that the pink ribbon beast will infect any arena it can for October. It just happens to women. A stroke of bad luck. They didn't deserve it.

No one deserves cancer. Let's stop the posing. Let's get our priorities straight.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Big Family vs. Small Family Observation

Are you like your mom or your dad? My maternal and paternal sides differ in size by a great amount. On one side I have 2 aunts/uncles and on the other, I have 10. Now every human is a three dimensional person. Some may not be deep, but everyone is a round character. In a small family, it seems people are quick to slide a child as 'so much like their mother/father' despite said child not being like the referenced parent. It may take several trais, but that child is the one that is like X parent. To borrow a phrase from Malcolm "Ugly MFer" Gladwell, this is a form of thin slicing. We take a small amount of data and make a decision. This is a poor application of thin slicing as it usually is wrong. It seems that over a longer perod of time, a real clear cut X child is like X parent can be determined. Sometimes there is no match. My mom and her siblings don't really fit with my grandparents.

In a big family, that isn't the case. There is the definite heir to a specific parent. Since all of the children grow up in the same environment, you really get a view of genes at play. On my father's side, there is a definite heir to my grandfather and heiress to my grandmother. It's not even close. No one disagrees. It's even a good family joke about my uncle being the reincarnation of my grandfather once he hit 50. Had someone viewed the family fifteen years ago, they might have made a different decision about my aunts, saying that they all were pretty similar and there was no true heiress. An observer might have guessed the uncle-grandfather similarities, but it would not have been as clear cut. With a large family, I don't think outside observers are as quick to make a snap judgment on who is the 2nd coming of which parent.

As a tangent to this idea, a big family makes it easier to figure out where the bad behavior genes come from. Families with only children or two kids make it tougher to see who brought the bad DNA to the show. For all the ripping on irresponsible single moms, if they give birth to that one child and dad leaves the picture never to be seen by the social circle, how are we to know if it's an issue of mommy being bad or the sperm donor being a jackass? This may give some single moms cover as they can blame everything on the dad, wiping their responsibility clean since they are sacrificing to raise that kid on their own.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sci-fi Reflects Contemporary Fears

To expand upon a series of tweets from last week, American science fiction cinema reflects the contemporary fears of society. It doesn't do a good job of projecting the future because the stories turned into movies or TV shows are selected by Hollywood producers that want to tap into a current mood. I include comic books in the discussion as comics themselves have seen origin stories change to fit the times. For all the chrome and funny noises, the stories are just playing on your fears of something new.

The 1950s and 1960s were full of space stories as well as atomic themes. Was there truly something out there? Would unlocking the atom bring us great treasures or destroy everything we know? Examples are a quarter of the Twilight Zone episodes, creature films where the creature is due to atomic testing, Spider man (atomic spider bite), Hulk + the Fantastic Four (space rays), and even the Silver Surfer and Galactus (space invaders).

The 1970s saw a continuation of space stories but the last man on earth type movies crept into play. This coincided with the space program reaching the moon as well as global fears from the early environmentalist movement that crapped out books like "The Population Bomb". The last man on earth stories reflected that fear of what would happen if a nuclear war did take place. Dystopian literature that had started in the '60s was turned into cinema in the '70s stagflation, unraveling period. Charlton Heston seemed to star in a bunch of these with Soylent Green being the best. In a decade typified by Alan Alda and Woody Allen, Heston and Eastwood were the last real men in Hollywood.

The 1980s were chock full of computer and robot movies. Computers and robots were always trying to take over the world or had taken over the world.... still using punch cards. Part of this could have been fears of atuomation in economic life as well as the basic fear of machines that laymen understood less and less. My grandfather can explain the basics of how a car uses gas to make the car move. Skype might as well be magic to him.

The 1990s focused more on genetics and biological issues, and the idea of 'is it real?' crept into play. When Hollywood adapted Hulk and Spiderman to the big screen for the 1st time, they made the Hulk a product of genetic experiments and Spiderman was bit by a genetically engineered spider. Species was about an alien whow as crossed with a human to create a hot, hybrid alien that needed to get naked. Gattaca was one of the best movies no one else has ever watched in my circle of friends, and it felt like a realistic portrayal of what genetic engineering would do to society when unleashed on the human status game. Jurassic Park was all about genetic engineering. The reality theme started with Total Recall and peaked with The Matrix. That toys with our narcissism, but also points out just how much of a circus and show people view our current civilization.

That theme of civilization being a joke or a giant production has given way to the new obsession: zombies. Zombies and the other trend, disaster movies where humans have little hope of preventing disaster, reflect our fear of civilization collapse. These trends started in the late '90s, and have been the major force for sci-fi. We do see what a joke the show that is society is and that society has become worse, but we recognize just how shitty life would be if things broke down. Shooting scores of zombies might be necessary when the EBT cards run out. There's a comet-asteroid-2012 Mayan doomsday prophecy coming that will hit no matter what, and we're forced to regroup in a smaller, less complex setting.

How transparent is the zombies for civilization collapse theme? There is a debate about zombies being the slow walking traditional type or the 28 Days Later fast moving type. I think 28 Days Later was one of the most intense moviegoing experiences because of the fast nature of the zombies, but they weren't zombies. They were infected people. I am a traditionalist in that I believe zombies to be the dead come back to life, so they are slow and have limited brain power + motor skills. Fast moving zombies might as well scream, "THIS IS WHAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN SOCIETY BREAKS DOWN. THEY WILL COME TO EAT YOU." The fear is there though for societal breakdown. It might just be for 28 days, but that's al it will take.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Economic Predictions for 2013

Now that the election is behind us, we can look forward to the zombies on Facebook focusing once again on inane bullshit. They won't wake up until spring 2014. Whatever themes that will be campaigned and pushed in 2014 are not yet formulated. Consider the 2010 midterms. The anti-bailout attitudes hadn't started, people expected Obama to concentrate on the economy and not health care, and people expected Obama to go after the Wall St. bankers. Obama double downed on Wall St. bailouts, didn't prosecute any Wall St. cronies, pushed through a stimulus that didn't stimulate the economy, and chased after HCR for over a year rather than any tax reform. Once that was the set up, the Tea Party went from ripple to tsunami, and the battle pieces and argument were in place for the midterms. What can we expect to be driving the discussion in 2014? Fiscal and economic problems that linger. Here are my predictions, and guess which side will take which with each item.

1. Economists will admit we entered recession in late 2012, and it will be well established in 2013.
2. The fiscal cliff negotiations will have two potential outcomes:
A) Most likely - There is a "grand bargain" that doesn't really do much about annual budget work but does attack Social Security and even Medicare. Only Nixon can go to China and only a Democrat can knife SS + Medicare. Obama said in an interview in October that he will make a deal within 6 months. Plenty of pundits have been calling for this, including the main man in charge, Robert Rubin.
B) They do not reach an agreement and the fiscal cliff hits. Some pundits have been writing that this should happen (Paul Krugman). Don't sleep on this one as if this happens both Obama and the GOP can blame each other and say their hands were tied by the 2011 budget deal.
3. Wall St. will keep making money with not a soul going to trial. Keep in mind that they have to run out the clock 7 years. 2008 and prior years + 7 gets them to 2015. The TBTF banks will all still be in place by December 2013.
4. A mortgage GSE write down mechanism will be shoved down the throats of US taxpayers. This will forgive some principal on specific mortgages, not the ones held by Wall St, but the FHA loans so we, the US taxpayers, will see a $100-$300 billion loss (Bruce Krasting's theory). This will NOT help the housing market, and will just be another payoff to buy voters. This will be paid for with more FED printing.
5. Europe's financial crisis will result in Greece's exit from the euro. This will have plenty of negative consequences, but more for countries not named Greece. This will cause financial disruptions as well as be the cause for the US to start bailing out the other Euro problem countries. The US Treasury will find away to do this without Congressional approval. This will be paid for with more FED printing.
6. One state will appeal to the Federal government for a direct bailout.
7. Firings pick up as consumer end demand is just not there due to the debt overhang. There will be no student debt forgiveness because it screws over the big banks and the universities, which are both important parts of the Dem support structure.
8. Stocks take a tumble early (to give the FED cover to buy Treasuries in QEternity), gold continues its rise, oil + raw material costs go up, everyone but the elite lose. The key is oil will go up despite the economy contracting, and few of your friends will notice it has to due to the FED money printing.
9. The fools won't notice that their EBT card buys 1/2 the groceries it used to since they use it at McDonald's more often than Kroger's.
10. Colorado + Washington will see a slight tourism uptick due to the marijuana ballot referendums. Amsterdam will see a slight decrease in the total number of US tourists.

It's too early for the currency/bond crisis, but remember that candidate Romney did mention the idea of a failed bond auction explicitly in that famous 47% video because the FED is just giving us the money out of thin air. A failed auction is coming. A dollar crisis is coming. Moves in 2013 will add to the strain on the dollar. The FED bailing out more and more entities will spur the GOP on to hammer away at the FED, which Gov. Perry, Rep. Paul Ryan and Rep. Ron Paul did on the campaign trail throughout this season. More bailouts, little change and a new recession will be the 2013 events that start the train for the 2014 midterms. More people will catch on that this method is not working, and whomever wants to win as an individual POTUS candidate in 2016 from either party would be wise to pay attention to the anti-elite, anti-Wall St. mood of the nation.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Red/Blue Divide: Drifting Towards Secession

In my prior post, I discussed lightly the idea of red and blue seeping deeper into our culture. Michael Barone's article on the two countries is pretty accurate. This is an important change that is why I give 7-1 odds on a US break-up or secession scenario. Sailer's concept of white female fertility tracking Bush's vote totals is part of this concept. It's not that making it affordable to have a family is the key to electoral success, but that the white voters who value the idea of having a family and multiple children are the type of voters who vote GOP. You can make it affordable to have a family all you want, but there are some whites who will never ever have kids, or they will have one kid just to get it over with. This is just one example of the cultural shift amongst the states. This split is beginning to express itself at the state law level concretely and will force a break-up.

While optimistic types like Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit point out gun freedoms growing in blue states as a positive sign, the red/blue divide has grown. What started in 2000 as a simple designation by the news channels on what state voted what way, the media amplified this with series of articles on the differences between the red and blue states, and Hollywood has pitched in with some great movies or tv series showcasing one side or the other. Portlandia mocks the SWPL blue staters while Talladega Nights mocks southern red staters. As Barone types, there is less and less cultural cohesion across America. People will fear that their culture has less hold on the population and will seek to codify their beliefs or what they consider proper behavior into law. This red vs. blue cultural clash is hardening down to the state rep level as former red states that could have blue state houses are vanishing because the red state voters no longer can trust even a blue politician from their area.

When you start to look at the map, you see the blue model states failing hard as Walter Russell Mead likes to point out. These blue states also have industries in common. Those states have seen manufacturing leave, either offshore or for right to work low tax/cost red states, and replaced that with health care, education, finance, IT and creative class industries. A common thread to those industries is how raw materials have little impact to their expenses. They don't understand the need for raw materials like a plastics manufacturer in Indiana or an inorganic chemicals producer in Texas. State governments craft policies that help their industries, so this cycle will continue as the economic powers in control of the politics of those states will rent seek for themselves.

As states vote on ballot measures, it becomes obvious where fault lines are. How many red states will constitutionally ban gay marrige? How many will allow it? How many of those states will reform public unions or move to right to work? How many will dig in for union support? What state or city will politically pressure groups that engage in phony hate speech? Which ones will not engage in that but push to express their love of religion? When you see state referendum ballot results, you see where the fault lines are. I still see a 3 or 4 country split out of the USA, but the demographic groundwork was laid out after '65 + the legislative groundwork is being laid now. The red/blue divide will grow as whites in red states will vote even more GOP due to the federal government granting more goodies for the Dem minorities in their states. Blue states will vote even more Dem because of their need to feed the coalition. The purple upper Midwest is the weird one to call. Without the rampant ballot stuffing or dead people voter fraud, is that region red? People will continue in heir quest to codify their cultural beliefs because a unified culture is gone from America.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Patrist + Matrist Societies

In today's information age, are some ideas brilliant but never discussed ever again? The more I read, the more I believe this. Forget ripping blogs down, just simple filtering of search engine results can bury great ideas. An idea that I read elsewhere, inspired me to buy the 1954 (1st ed hardcover, score!) book, "Sex in History". "Sex in History" is written by G. Rattray Taylor who had a resume that involved working in the psychological warfare dept of S.H.A.E.F. as well as direct the Acton Society Trust which performed social research. I can't find much on this guy or the Acton Society online. His book is mostly explaining how a society's attitudes towards sex affect its behavior in general. There is much church bashing, there is a lot of Freudian language, progressive is the "best" and he has some interesting predictions for the future (our present). I'd say he focuses too much on sex to explain everything, and doesn't even mention anythign related to economics, wealth creation, agriculture or disease. I do not recommend reading this book. It's a waste of time. Instead, let me type the greatest part of this book, which you should print or bookmark.

1. Restrictive attitude to sex
2. Limitation of freedom for women
3. Women seen as inferior, sinful
4. Chastity more valued than welfare
5. Politically authoritarian
6. Conservative, against innovation
7. Distrust of research, enquiry
8. Inhibition, fear of spontaneity
9. Deep fear of homosexuality
10. Sex differences maximized (dress)
11. Asceticism, fear of pleasure
12. Father religion

1. Permissive attitude to sex
2. Freedom for women
3. Women accorded high status
4. Welfare more valued than chastity
5. Politically democratic
6. Progressive, revolutionary
7. No distrust of research
8. Exhibition, spontaneity
9. Deep fear of incest
10. Sex differences minimized (dress)
11. Hedonism, pleasure welcomed
12. Mother religion

In the red vs. blue divide in the US, which is now not just simple politics but has seeped in culturally deeper and deeper, can you spot which side is patrist or matrist? Can you pick out the pieces that seem to not jive? Just for fun, let's consider your average white, blue stater. Not blue voter, but blue stater, there is a slight difference. A blue voter is just a Dem voter, but a blue stater doesn't just vote it, but lives it.

Blue stater - Permissive attitude to sex, freedom for women, women have high status, welfare over chastity, democratic but they do love power and authority, progressive, they trust only research that doesn't threaten PC beliefs, exhibition and spontaneity valued, deep fear of incest sounds like the fear of molestation obsession but more importantly opposite of patrists they elevate the homosexual, hedonism is a go, and the mother religion is mother Gaia. A blue stater is a matrist nearly to a T.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

A Baker's Dozen Thoughts on the 2012 Election

Now as the big daddy result has been called, some thoughts....

1. We're fucked. We were screwed either way as too much shit is baked into the cake to turn us around, but the more troubling thing is the margin of Obama's win (not to mention the entire campaign strategy + media manipulation). Romney was a flawed candidate, but this was all wrapped up by 11:30pm. Might need to move my timetable for US disintegration to mid 2020s.

2. Romney had poor campaign managers throughout his effort, did not attack enough in the 2nd debate and did not differentiate himself enough in certain regards. He's a nice guy. He has done a lot for millions (yes, millions) of people whether as governor, CEO, Utah Olympic savior, volunteer, missionary, etc. He was a perfect candidate for pre-2000 America. I'll go out on a limb and say had he declared his residency always in Michigan, he'd be president right now. He'd never have had to pretend to be liberal for years in Mass, and he'd have been a 2 term Gov from a state that he could swing. Small things have huge impacts, and I bet decades ago, he never saw that one coming back to haunt him.

3. You believe in the Cathedral? They were going to win either way, but they have their man still in charge for a potential Kennedy/Scalia death. Look at their ages, then sweat the next 4 years if you trust in the Supreme Court slowing decay down.

4. You think Wall St is holding the strings? I do. Their man is still in charge, as will be Geithner and Bernanke. As I typed on twitter, regardless of campaign donations, if the market stays up before Nov 6th, they want Obama, if it tanks before Nov 6th, they want Romney. As Zero Hedge tweeted tonight, why do you think Goldman Sachs did not change their 1250 S&P end of '12 forecast? Buying cheap puts might be the way to go in consumer discretionary equities.

5. GOP candidates learned not to mention rape ever unless it involves sentencing men for raping women foreverrrrr. Akin and Mourdock lost winnable races due to comments involving rape. When you are in the outer party, you must be very very careful.

6. The wicked rigth wing House remains in the GOP's hands. The White House remains with a polar opposite liberal President that won't work with them. The American voters returned both pieces. I am sure US voters are dumb, but what might it say about the real differences of our elected officials?

7. Gay Marriage passed in 4 states. Lots of straights going to be talking to their one gay friend tomorrow. My home state goes from being called Nazis 3 years ago when they rejected it to being called angels this year for pasing it. Such is the way of party politics America.

8. The currency/bond crisis is coming. Buy gold, buy oil equities, and not a bad idea to buy cartons of cigs for trading.

9. How far does the Benghazi thing go? The media doesn't have to protect Obama anymore. They love to tear down those who they build up, and quite honestly, they may need to turn on him quickly if they want to offer up Hil-dawg as the '16 nominee. She'll need to be shielded.

10. Prediction: Jeb Bush enters field in '16, so does Jindahl, maybe Walker, and Rubio. No Christie. My guess is GOP voters support whomever they think is tough + angry enough. No more playing nice. If trends of awfulness continue, a currency crisis happens, and the GOP can't win, pack it up. You'll hear loud secession calls.

11. Marijuana legal now in Colorado and Washington. How will the Feds react? Irony would be Obama busting up those states as he did to California medical dispensaries.

12. Chris Christie has no national ticket future with the GOP, but let's consider what he's staring at. He is in a state with a horrible fiscal situation, and they just got hammered by a huge storm. The only tourist attraction just got destroyed. NJ will be a ward of the US Federal Government. He knew this. He was looking out for NJ. For all the negative feelings about pols doing what is best only for their careers, here is a guy who put NJ first.

13. We get closer to Brave New World. We also get closer to fully understanding why humans are the only animal to submit to slavery. Seems we want a gilded cage more than the freedom to fail.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Final 2012 Election Prediction

Just another 48 hours of hearing about the most important election in the history of the world (8th edition). I'm in a deep red state with no pressing local issues (property tax cap was last time), and I am not voting.

The House will remain GOP but they will give back a decent chunk of the seats won in the landslide 2010 Tea Party Wave election.

The Senate will remain under Democrat control. The GOP really fumbled here. Part of this will come down to turnout, but some is self inflicted. The GOP needed a better gameplan for some states (Florida/Virginia), better candidates in others, and an actual gold watch, succession plan for Dick Lugar in Indiana.

The Biggie - President

Signs for Obama - His secure count starts at 237 (PA + MI), because even if you're campaigning in the last week in a state doesn't make it a toss up, it's just a soft lean. Great ground game in Ohio + Nevada. Entire media-academia cathedral complex on his side. The race issue shaming some whites into voting for him. Nate Silver, NY Times paid Jewish Obama fan boi, has been claiming an Obana victory in 2012 even when Obama's approval ratings were in the 30s. My White House source is predicting 294 electoral votes for O. He's a Dem, but I trust his instincts.

Signs for Romney - Polls seem to show him tied or with a small lead even when oversampled to D+11 (latest CNN poll). He has a huge lead with independents. Crowd test: his crowds have become larger than the venues can hold whereas Obama's crowds are smaller. Dem enthusiasm nowhere close to 2008. Obama's been shifting resources out of some swing states to show up in states no Republican has won in over 20 years. Weirdest of all, Dems are confident that Obama will win but they've given up all talk of taking the House.

Prediction - Obama gets 271 electoral votes and loses the popular vote. I can't shake this feeling that Obama is going to win Ohio by the slimmest of margins due to the ground game (as well as Nevada like Reid did).

I see a 'grand bargain' fiscal deal done within 6 months of the next term. King puppet master for Wall St and the CFR, Robert Rubin, is calling for it, Obama himself even said if he is re-elected, he will cut a deal early with a GOP congress. If the financial plutocrats that hold the puppet strings want a fiscal austerity deal, they will not want public riots or civil unrest. Any 'grand bargain' is going to create nationwide changes to SS and Medicare/Medicaid. The better face to prevent riots is Obama. Black leaders have said int he last 2 years that if there was any other POTUS, they'd be marching on DC (like that would help). True, real cuts are coming, and a beige face as the figurehead delivering that news will keep the underclass fixed to their entertainment + food and off the streets. This outcome is bad for America as Benghazi will get attention and cripple a 2nd term lame duck POTUS when we do not need one. The euro sovereign crisis will flare up, and we do not need an incompetent and crippled president at the helm.

Even if Romney wins, how happy is the cathedral? They get the most liberal Republican in America in the last 20 years at the helm of the presidency that they still can attack for being a conservative. I grew up in New England, and saw Romney's senate campaign. I lived in Massachusetts when Romney was governor. He loves being in charge, he is competent, he loves power, and he does love America. I've always viewed him as a GOP version of Bill Clinton who can govern and will compromise to win later. His best achievements in Mass were speeding along the Big Dig, fixing the tunnel that had problems and loose concrete slabs that killed from above, and removing the brother of Whitey Bulger from the Mass political scene. Only he could do it because he didn't owe Bulger anything. I do think he'd be better than Obama. I also think there are 20 politicians in America that would be better presidents than Obama.

In my best Nate Silver impersonation, I do realize that a wild variety of outcomes could happen. I do not assign an 80% chance of my prediction, but it's what I think most likely to happen. My prediction continuum would be Obama at 288 to Romney at 295 (all swing states except NV). The Obama 288 + Romney 295 are lower prob, with my higher prob sets at O 271, Romney 277 + Romney 285. If Romney or Obama crack 300, I will be genuinely surprised.